Reasons I Adore the KJV #8: Its beauty and elegance

One of the first things I noticed when reading the KJV for the first time was its beauty and elegance.

In fact, it could be argued that the Authorized Version of the Bible is the most beautiful and eloquent writing in the world has ever seen.

The most beautiful of all translations

“It’s the most beautiful of all the translations of the Bible; indeed it is probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world.” 

—H. L. Mencken

Before I started reading the King James Bible for myself, I had never heard this quote before. Or any of the hundreds like it.

In fact, I had no idea that one of the qualities of the King James Bible that sets it apart from all other books is its awe-inspiring beauty and eloquence. And not just in a few places, but on every page and in every sentence from the first to the last!

Design by committee…?

This is particularly striking because the King James Bible was translated by committee.

That may not sound impressive to you, but if there’s one thing I learned in my years as a creative director and copy writer, it is this:

Design by committee is almost always a bad idea.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a law of physics that the quality of writing is inversely proportional to the number of people involved in the process. The more hands in the pot, the less lovely writing becomes.

You can imagine my surprise when I learned that a committee — and not just a small committee, but a committee of 47 to 54 — created such a masterpiece of prose and poetry as the KJV. 

Talk about an anomaly!

Translated for precise accuracy

What’s even more intriguing is this rather large group of the world’s most preeminent scholars did not set out to write beautiful words. 

Instead, what they set out to do was translate precisely each word from the original languages with the highest degree of accuracy.

So the fact that translating for accuracy resulted in a work of such beauty, poetry, and eloquence — well, it can only be attributed to the hand of God.

Truly, the King James Bible is a work of art.

There is not a line of Scripture that is not written in the highest possible literary form. 

Why are we surprised? God created language.

And why should we be surprised? Jesus IS the Word!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

—John 1:1

God himself is the creator of language.

“…all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16), and he was the one who created all the tongues of the world when he “did confound the language of all the earth” at Babel (Genesis 11:9).

God knew when he inspired men to pen the original Scriptures that they would one day be translated into English.

He also knew beforehand that English would become the universal language of the world. 

Just as God already knew from the beginning that he would send Jesus into the world to save fallen mankind from our sins, he also foreknew when he spoke them that the Hebrew words and the Hebraisms of the Old Testament would later be translated into such beautifully poetic language in English.

He also foreknew that his words first spoken in Greek would translate perfectly into the powerful and precise prose we now hold in our hands in English.

God knew the exact number of syllables needed to make each line of the King James Bible flow with its musical quality, its crystal clear voice, its memorable rhythm, its lilting and captivating cadence — all of the things that make it such a joy to hear.

He is the Alpha and the Omega. God knows the beginning from the end, so none of this should come as a surprise. 

Beauty and elegance of the KJV

Even God’s creation speaks to us in patterns, rhythms, and cadences that declare his majesty.

We see his perfect beauty in the precise design of the Fibonacci spiral, in the letters of the English alphabet on the wings of butterflies, in the geometry of a snowflake, in the ebb and flow of the tides. 

We hear the rhythm and heartbeat of our Creator in the sound of ocean waves, in the music of crickets, in the sound waves emitted by the stars. As the psalmist says, all creation declares the handiwork of God! 

Just as in nature, the very characteristics of God — the beauty, the patterns, the order, the eloquence — are there for us to see in his Word.

Beauty and elegance of the KJV: Psalm 19

When I read Psalm 19 in the KJV, I can’t help but notice all of the references to language, speech, words — not to mention the incredible beauty of every line, the cadence and rhythm of these words that you’ll find only in the King James Bible:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors?
cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright,
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. 

—Psalm 19:1-14

Words and language matter to God.

As his children, God instructs us over and over in his Word how we should speak. Since God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts, we should expect his words, his way of speaking to us, to be so much higher than ours.

The King James Bible is uniquely qualified in that respect. My Saviour is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). It is only by beholding the beauty and elegance of the KJV that I am beginning to understand the true beauty of his holiness.

It is only in the King James Bible that I am able truly behold the beauty of God through the beauty of his words. And the more I read and behold his beauty of his words, the more beautiful he becomes to me!  

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Are you interested in studying the Bible but you aren’t sure which version to choose?

Have you ever wanted to read the King James Bible, but someone told you it was too difficult?

My name is Michele, and I’ve had those same questions too. 

In my 23 years as a Christian, I’ve read many of the modern Bible versions. But once I started reading the King James version, I discovered it was unlike anything I had ever read before, and I want to share that joy with you.

I’m here to dispel the myth that the KJV is hard to read. To give you tools and tips to get started. And to encourage you as you begin reading the greatest book that’s ever been written!

Thank You

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